Lent Reflections @ CEC (3/4/20)
O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again. Amen.
SCRIPTURE & DEVOTION: Mark 3.20-35; focused on 3.20-21, 31-35 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind…” Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” This story brings me a knowing smile, a smile of recognition. Two generations ago, my maternal grandfather and his three brothers came to the eastern U.S. from the country of Lebanon, as did my great-grandparents on my mother’s side. I remember spending practically every weekend at their house, taking in the wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen, surrounded by a crowd of great-uncles and aunts and cousins. It always amazed my schoolmates that I knew all of my first and second and third cousins by name and by sight. So I understand from experience how big a deal “family” is in Middle Eastern culture and how important it is to “get it right.” Each individual is an integral part of the whole, so it naturally follows that the decisions and actions of each one are important to everyone else. (This seems to be the case in many families of Mediterranean origin. When I was at my aunt’s funeral shortly after a certain movie came out, my mother’s cousin Somaya came up to me and said, “Have you seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding yet? It’s the story of your father meeting your mother.”) When Jesus’ family hears that he is attracting what they would consider to be undue attention, they set out to go and get him. I think they worry that he might be inconveniencing those around him, as verse 20 indicates that his disciples were not even able to eat. Perhaps they fear for his safety. But mostly, I think they are concerned about how Jesus’ behavior will reflect on their family. In a culture where anything out of the norm would be frowned upon, his behavior would certainly stand out. By his question, “Who are my mother and brothers?” Jesus’ intention is not to disrespect or to disown his earthly family. His answer to this question clearly demonstrates his purpose: to show that God’s family includes everyone who lives according to his guidelines, all who embrace his will for their lives. To include someone in your family that is not related to you is the highest honor one can bestow. It is to say, in effect, “You are important to me. I accept you and acknowledge that you are an integral part of my life. You belong in my world. You are loved.” This is an amazing gift of kinship, that the God of the universe would invite us into his own family. It transcends nationality, race, gender, age, or any of the other characteristics by which human beings seek to identify themselves or to label each other. It is a concept that is almost too big to grasp.
Today, let us ponder the wonder of God’s inclusive love and thank him for our families: those to whom we are related in an earthly sense, and those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Cindy Graff
Jesus, You are the best includer! Thank you for loving us and including us in Your great story! It is beyond our comprehension as to why You would want to include us in Your plan for redemption and restoration, but we are so thankful!